Chapter 696: You’re My Only Hope
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Whoo… A cold, bitter wind howled from the North.
A young man was striding urgently across the frozen ground. He was clad in a black battle robe with a crystal crown on his head. It was Link.
The clouds in the sky above the Isle of Eternal Winter churned like the surface of a stormy sea. Snowflakes fell from the heavens like feathers. These hexagonal snowflakes were a hazard in and of itself. Not only were they colder than ice, but their edges were also so sharp that they could wedge themselves into one’s flesh. At any moment, these snowflakes could come tumbling down from the sky like shurikens.
The waves on the surface of the sea around the island were all frozen in place.
In any case, the island was unimaginably cold.
However, thanks to the Crown of Eternal Night, his power had been converted into Dark Power, and he now had a high resistance to such freezing temperatures. No matter how the wind howled at him, Link did not feel the slightest bit cold.
The spatial fabric in the island had been completely frozen, preventing anyone from using teleportation magic within its confines. Link had no choice but to make his way through the snow on foot.
The entire island was a 300 square-foot-wide circular disc. In the middle of it stood the Snow Mountain Archmage’s Frozen Palace. After striding for half a minute through the snow, Link finally saw the magnificent palace in the distance.
The Frozen Palace was made of huge blocks of ice, each of which seemed to be of a different color. The entire building stood out garishly against the snow-white backdrop.
Link was about to resume his path towards the palace when suddenly he noticed a wizened man standing before him in a white robe which matched his equally white hair and beard. Link knew who he was. It was the Snow Mountain Archmage who had sent his double to Firuman. He was also known as Iyr, and here in Aragu, he was widely recognized as the grandmaster of the mystic arts.
As soon as he saw the old man, Link suddenly felt a pang of guilt. He had intended to deliver the divine fragment to the Archmage as promised. Instead, he was the one who ended up using it. Though he did not really have a choice on the matter itself, Link still felt somewhat guilty for not being able to keep his promise.
Upon seeing the remorseful look on Link’s face, Archmage Iyr said with a wistful smile, “Lord of Ferde, do not beat yourself up over it. I already know what happened. The divine fragment wasn’t even mine to begin with. It wasn’t your fault that the fates have deemed you worthy of it. The fates have also informed me that my life is about to come to an end, and that destruction will come upon the Sea of Void soon.”
“Are you talking about the Ruler of Light and Darkness?” asked Link. Even though he had already been mentally prepared for such an eventuality for some time, his body trembled still, somewhat unnerved to hear it straight from the Archmage’s mouth.
Iyr nodded. “At first, all I saw was darkness. I did not know why. However, you have revealed the truth to me during your duel with Saroviny on the Verdant Plains. The Inferno Archmage has chosen submission. An unprecedented catastrophe will soon beset the Aragu realm… I thought all hope was lost for all of us until the day I met you.”
Iyr turned towards Link with a grave look on his face. His dark blue eyes were fixed on him. “The light of hope burns bright in you, Link. You will soon gain power which rivals even that of the Ruler of Light and Darkness. Only you will be able to stop his genocidal campaign against all life in every realm. You must not die. Leave the Aragu realm now. Return to Firuman and become strong enough to vanquish the Ruler of Light and Darkness once and for all!”
Just then, Link felt a sudden warmth in the air. Then, he noticed a red glimmer spreading out from the horizon as if the sun had finally sunk into the ocean and left the last rays of its light in the sky.
Before Link could even make a remark, the Snow Mountain Archmage muttered, “The Inferno Archmage, Sastor, he’s coming!”
This was the first time Link had heard the Inferno Archmage’s real name being spoken out loud. With his thought processes accelerated by the Crown’s Dark Thoughts special effect, he was able to quickly predict what was about to happen soon.
He’s probably after me. Saroviny had said that her father wants to make a slave out of me. She’s also said that the Inferno Archmage has chosen to side with the Ruler of Light and Darkness. From the looks of things, the entire Fire Sect must be coming after me in full force. With the Aragu realm completely sealed shut, escape may be all but impossible…
Even with the Crown of Eternal Night and his supposed potential for further growth, the fact remained that Link’s power was still at Level-16 and that the only ally he had right now was the Snow Mountain Archmage. With the enemy coming in fast, Link might not be able to make it out of the Aragu realm alive.
Archmage Iyr waved a hand, conjuring countless Frost runes around it. The runes sparkled for a few seconds in the air. All of a sudden, they fizzled out. “Sastor has sealed off the entire realm with the power of his followers’ belief. As long as his spell is in effect, even I will not be able to break out of this realm. We’ll just have to fight our way out of this!”
He began walking towards the Frozen Palace. “Come with me, Lord of Ferde. Time is of the essence. The Aragu army will not be able to come to our aid in time… Even if they do, they would not be of much help. Our only course of action right now is to help you attain more power.”
The old man was walking so fast that Link had to jog after him.
The two were soon inside the Frozen Palace. The Archmage’s footsteps did not stop. Once they reached the middle of the palace’s main hall, the Archmage waved a hand. As if in response, the rune circle beneath their feet glowed, revealing a secret storage space.
“Rise!” The Snow Mountain Archmage waved his hand again. An ice pillar began rising from the middle of the storage space with a sound of ice breaking. A crystal box was set on the pillar.
The Archmage opened the box with another wave of his hand. A colorless crystal as big as a pigeon’s egg floated out of the box. As soon as it came into contact with the air in the outside world, it was immediately surrounded by a milky white mist. The temperature in the hall instantly dropped to negative 30 degrees. Link could not help but shiver in the sudden cold.
“Swallow this, quick!” The Snow Mountain Archmage quickly gave Link the crystal. The cold was so intense that it was as if there were hundreds of cold needles piercing his face right now.
Link could not imagine how his stomach would react to being forced such an ominous-looking thing. He had no idea what the Snow Mountain Archmage was making him eat.
Game system, do you know what this is? thought Link. He knew the Archmage would not try to harm him. He just wanted to know a bit more about the crystal before he put it in his mouth.
Scanning… Scan complete. It’s a Flawless Frozen Essence.
Flawless Frozen Essence
Effect: The Essence is made of pure concentrated Frost Power. Anyone who takes it will experience an intense cold. If they manage to survive it, their power level will be increased by one level. Otherwise, their body and soul will be frozen solid.
(Note: Great power comes at a great cost!)
After reading through the crystal’s effects, there was no doubt in Link’s mind what he was supposed to do right now. These were dangerous times. Link had to take a leap of faith. He opened his mouth and bit into the Flawless Frozen Essence. Ignoring the growing numbness in his mouth, he let the crystal slide down his throat and into his stomach.
Link’s thoughts flashed through his mind so quickly that the Snow Mountain Archmage did not even detect Link’s initial misgiving about swallowing the crystal.
He did not think that Link would take it so willingly. He then laughed out loud. “Good man, Good man! Seeing how much faith you have in me, you have my word that I will do whatever it takes to get you out of Aragu alive!”
Link could barely hear what the Archmage was saying. The only thing he was feeling right now was the indescribable pain in his stomach. It was as if hundreds of knives were now cutting up his intestines into ribbons. The coldness had also spread to every corner of his body, threatening to turn him into a human-sized popsicle.
The pain was excruciating. However, Link’s mind still remained somewhat lucid. Heh, I could still feel pain, which means that the crystal’s coldness hasn’t completely ruined my body yet.
If his body were to go completely numb, he would have to activate the Crown of Eternal Night’s Ultimate Darkness Form in order to boost his own magical resistances and mitigate the damage done to his body. However, the situation seemed a lot better than he had expected.
Link was now in so much pain that he could barely stand up. He plopped down on the ground, fighting off the biting cold in his body.
The Snow Mountain Archmage was silently watching over him in a corner.
At that point, the red glimmer in the sky had intensified. The snow and clouds in the sky outside the Frozen Palace had somewhat cleared.
Half a minute later, a terrible voice exploded like lightning in the air. “Iyr, hand over the intruder and pledge your allegiance to the Ruler of Light and Darkness or die!”
The Inferno Archmage, Sastor had arrived.